UN concerned over civilian casualties in Afghanistan

November 12th, 2008 - 9:47 am ICT by IANS  

TalibanUnited Nations, Nov 12 (IANS) UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon Tuesday expressed concern over continued civilian casualties in Afghanistan where US-led international forces are fighting the war against Al Qaeda and Taliban terrorists.”Attacks targeted against civilians are unacceptable,” Ban told reporters at the UN headquarters in New York.

Ban, who had several times in the past one year expressed concern over the deaths of civilians during anti-terrorists operations of the US-led international forces in Afghanistan, said: “In planning military strategy, they have to avoid and they have to ensure that his will not create any civilian casualties.”

While there are no official figures for civilian casualties, it is estimated that the number runs into at least a couple of thousands in the post-Taliban era. The Karzai government has been raising its voice against the increasing number of civilian casualties with the Bush administration and the NATO leadership.

Analysts say the failure of the US-led international forces to minimize civilian casualties could prove to be counter-productive as it would push the masses more towards the Taliban. NATO and US military officials, however, argue that of late they have been taking utmost precaution to ensure there are no civilian deaths during their operations. At the same time they point out that the Taliban and Al Qaeda terrorists use civilians as their shield to hide and launch their attacks against them, thus making their task difficult.

“The civilian casualties have caused great alarm and sadness and concern in the international community,” Ban said in response to a question on the issue. He also referred to his similar statement in the past on this issue and that he has been taking up the matter with the concerned authorities.

“In fact, I have been discussing this matter on many occasions with the President of Afghanistan, (Hamid) Karzai and the Secretary-General of NATO, (Jaap de Hoop) Scheffer, on the necessity of protecting civilian populations,” Ban said.

“I will continue to do that, and my special envoy, Kai Eide, is now strengthening this military/civilian coordination in Afghanistan,” said the secretary general.

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